drives

Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by.  We’ve been sent a truly informative and interesting infographic that should help provide all golfers no matter their skill level some direction on hitting the ball further, including plenty of exercises and stretching techniques.  We had to share it with you.  Special thanks to www.sklz.com for this cool piece.  Enjoy it below!

Driving The Golf Ball Further Infographic

golf-greens

Few golfers know what kind of grass their playing on, let alone how the grass has an impact on their games from tee to green. Pros on the other hand are very aware of this change, and can and do make adjustments to their equipment, swings and technique to help better their chances of scoring well. In this article we’ll talk a little bit about the most common types of golf grasses out there, and how they can affect your game.

Most Common Type of Grass

bermuda-grass bentgrass poa-annua-grass
Bermuda Bentgrass Poa Annua
 - very thick grass – common in the South  - some of the most common golf grass, especially a different strain – creeping bentgrass.- holds its line extremely well, very reliable grass - commonly considered a parasitic type grass, can easily replicate and takeover other grasses- can look yellow and wiry, and often is uneven on a putting surface

Bermuda Golf Tips

Bermuda can be a real bitch, especially when you get into the rough. The structure of this grass is thicker per weight than most other grasses played on golf courses. So hitting from the rough can be especially difficult, as this grass tends to grab and twist your club, and robs you of speed, and thus distance. Furthermore, the ball isn’t well supported, so it usually sits down in the rough and needs to be dug out from its nested lie. Consider using a club with more loft and make sure you’re attacking the ball with a descending blow. Tightening up your grip a bit when you’re in the deep stuff can also help. This grass is often found in the southern United States due to its sensitivity to cold. TPC Sawgrass is build on bermuda grass. Moral of this story – keep it in the fairway.

From the fairway, you will notice that more often than not you’ll be hitting from tighter lies, and because of this the ball tends to fly further when struck. Ball first contact is a must, and these fairways have been described as “spongier”. Because this grass grows in more of a gnarly tangle than straight up, lies from the fairway can be a little sticky. Chunking shots on this type of grass is especially common, so hit the ball below the ground.

When you’re playing on Bermuda greens, there’s a couple things you should know. This grass is pretty grainy and will tend to follow the sun throughout the day. The ball will also tend to follow the grain, so knowing how the grain lies is important on this type of grass. If the grass appears a dull, dark green, the grain is likely growing toward you, and will slow your putts. If the grass looks shiny and light green, it is likely growing away from you, and the ball will roll more. This grass also has a tendency not to roll out as much as other grasses, due to its stronger structure.

Bentgrass Golf Tips
Bentgrass rough is pretty tame, the ball can often sit up and doesn’t give you much of a problem to get out of it. Sweeping it off this rough is common. One thing you need to be aware of is watching where this grass is growing in relation to your target. If the grass if growing in the direction of your target, you will often get flyer lies, if it lies against you, expect it to slow your club down quickly upon impact.

Bentgrass fairways are usually softer, and often are mowed quite tightly as the grasses grow straight up. Shots to the fairway often roll out. These fairways are easy and straightforward to hit off of.

Bentgrass greens are some of the most common on the planet, due to their thick root structure and ability to withstand a ton of foot traffic. Furthermore, this grass makes some of the best greens on the planet, and is notorious for being able to hold the line of your putts no matter what type of stroke you put on it. Also a broader variety of strokes can be used on the greens with this type of grass. Ideally you want the ball to be rolling ASAP on the greens, but this is not as important on this type of grass, it is incredibly smooth, and even putting strokes that cause the ball to hop and skip won’t hurt you too much in the end.

Poa Annua Golf Tips
This grass is considered by many greenskeepers as an invasive species. It usually finds its way onto golf courses all over the planet by hitching a ride from one course to another on a golfers shoes. From there it can take root, and begin to grow. You can pick it out because of its lighter green color, and the fact that it grows in small patches amongst other grasses.

Poa Annua rough is slightly less tangly than bentgrass, and often requires less force to help the ball get out. More times than not, this grass doesn’t put up much resistance to golf clubs, and can leave golfers with decent rough lies with the ball sitting up on occasion.

Poa annua grass has one specific quality that a lot of people hate – different strains of the grass can grow at different rates. So this means that if you play in the afternoon, you can be dealing with much bumpier greens than people who played in the morning. Pebble Beach is built on Poa annua, and this is an often complaint of players. When it comes to putting, the faster you can get the ball rolling the better, balls that jump off the face and hop and skip on the greens can often be bumped offline on this type of grass. Furthermore hitting putts true, and on the sweet spot is recommended, anything short of good stroke will cause the ball to roll offline and the mistake will be exaggerated.

 

kids clinic t1
Photo credit: http://golftips.golfsmith.com/

Photo credit: http://golftips.golfsmith.com/

In this lesson, we’ll teach you how to teach your kids the full swing.

To start off, you must reinforce the last two lessons on both putting and chipping. An easy way to demonstrate this, is by grabbing an iron and showing kids the putting stroke, and gradually swing bigger until you’re chipping, and then slowly progress to a full swing. However, as soon as you’re done, kids are going to want to swing a club, and it’s incredibly important to discuss safety first, as most kids won’t know how dangerous golf clubs and balls can be. Be very clear that before anyone makes a swing, there should be aware of where the people are around them.

Next up, ask the kid(s) to drop the clubs and leave them on the ground – insist that before they learn to swing, they need to learn how to move the body and arms. Get your kid(s) to start with their feet shoulder width apart, or maybe little wider, explain that for a full swing you need a wider stance for balance. Get them to start with their hands on their hips and then mimic the body weight movements during a swing. Coil your body back as you would on your back swing (and get them to face you and say “hello”), then turn through the hitting area and through to finish. In the finish, explain to the kids that a good finish has your body facing the target, knees are touching and rear foot is on its toe. This is called the hello drill. Get them to turn back, say hello, and then turn through to face the target, and have their rear foot on its toes and knees touching. If it helps, have them envision balancing a glass on the back heel.

Next up is the arm movements. This is what we call the point the thumbs drill. Start with you kid(s) in a normal setup, but have their hands in a clapping position at address. Their palms together, and thumbs pointing down to the ground. Just like in the hello drill, have them turn back towards you, and now their thumbs should point over their shoulder towards the target. Then as the follow-through to finish their thumbs should point behind them away from the target. After some practice, they should catch on. Next up – bring on the clubs.

A note on clubs – usually, if you cut down a club for a youngster it will be too heavy and too stiff. Consider getting clubs specially made for kids, that use lightweight materials and extra flexible shafts. This will make swinging the club much easier, and help avoid poor technique due to them not having the strength to swing the overweighted club properly.

Get your kid(s) with clubs (no balls yet) and in their setup position. Check their grips again (as kids tend to like to change them up to something more natural). Reinforce the importance of safety, and then get them to repeat the thumbs drill, this time with a club in hand. If some of your kids have trouble with hitting the ground, encourage them to try to just sweep the grass instead. At this point, you’re just looking for complete uninterrupted swings. Make sure the kids are holding their finish positions – this is very important.

Ball position is next, and this is where the last drill comes into play – the tee drill. Place a tee an inch or so above the ground in the center of their stance. Depending on the length of the club the child has, see where the club’s sole is level on the ground – this should be where the tee goes. Next, get your kid(s) to nick the tee with their swing. Reinforce the same thumbs drill, and hold your finish.

Finally, grab some balls, once again reinforce everything you’ve previously taught them, especially safety, and get them hitting balls. Make a small competition of it to make it more fun. They’ll be pros in no time.

Photo credit: pga.com

070213_Golf_JDS1_MAIN

As a former golf professional and instructor, I have always had a passion for teaching others the game of golf. When I was teaching, I spent a lot of time teaching young kids the game. I really enjoyed teach kids because unlike adults, they rarely had bad tendencies engrained from years of swinging a club incorrectly. Kids can easily be molded into solid swingers with the right clubs, and the right instruction. For my lessons, I always liked to start to on the putting green. This is where the game ends for most people, but when you’re learning the game, this should be where it begins. The putting stroke is a fundamental element of the game that if taught correctly can then translating into a solid chipping stroke, then up to the full swing.

In this post we’ll walk through a putting lesson plan for kids, and more or less how it should be run. I advise all you parents out there to use this to help get your kids into the game.

Orientation

Try to keep this part short, but overall it’s nice to give your kids a fuller understanding of the game. Tell them things like:

- Golf was invented in Scotland 300 years ago, and is played around the world.
- The game is played on a golf course with golf clubs and golf balls.
- In the game you hit longer shots in the air, and roll shorter ones into a cup.
- the object of the game is to get the ball in the hole in as few hits as possible.

Etiquette

Again, another thing to keep short, but it really is one of the most important parts of your lesson as it will help set expectations for behaviour on the course:
- Golf is a quiet game, there should be no loud noises.
- Never Run.
- Never swing a club when others are near you.
- Never hit balls at other people.
- When putting, the putter never goes higher than your waist.

Putters

The best putters for kids, are ones that are built for kids. Cutting down an old full-size putter is okay, but they are usually way to heavy. They make specialized lightweight putters for kids that should be considered, especially if your kids get serious into the game. Another thing you have to consider (and not just assume) is what hand your kids may be. An easier way to find out is ask them to swing the club like a baseball bat, and it likely that will tell you. Kids who’ve played hockey will often swing a golf club from a different hand than their hockey stick, so keep that in mind (yes, I’m Canadian, and this is often an issue).

The Grip

Like most things with kids, you have to keep it simple. The grip is one of the most important parts of the game, however when teaching it try not to get overly-technical (unless you enjoy watching your kids eyes glaze over). The easiest way to teach kids the grip is such:

- Tell them to rest the putter flat on the ground and “clap” the grip, with both palms facing flat.
- Then explain that one hand is always lower than the other, right hand low for right-handers and vice-versa for lefties.
- Finally, tell them to grab the grip from this position – thats it.

Don’t both with interlocking or overlapping grips. You know your kids attention span is about as long as that of a squirrel, so don’t push it.

The Stance

This is likely the simplest part. Just tell the kids to lightly stop their feet in place before they putt. This will almost always ensure their feet are close to shoulder width apart. Some kids may lock their knees, or bend them too much. You may just need to tell them to lock their knees, and simply unlock them.

The Stroke

Here comes the best part. Without a ball, and in their proper stance. Stick a tee in the ground some 5 feet from your child. Now get them to try an “aim” their stroke so if they hit a ball, it would go towards the tee. Then, paint this mental picture (while demonstrating) – “imagine your arms like the pendulum on a grandfather clock – moving back and forth, back and forth”. Ask them to mimic the movement while you watch. Next, grab some balls, and get putting. A little competition is always fun – see if they can ‘beat mom or dad’.

During this time you’ll likely have to re-inforce some of the etiquette you taught them at the beginning of the lesson, and thats to be expected. Over time they will understand. If you can try to ensure you make the game as fun as possible. Once they get the hang of it, setup a mini-golf course if you can, or take them to a real mini golf course, and ask them to employ the things they’ve learned.

I hope this lesson plan helps cover the basics of putting and teaching kids, we’ll be covering the basics up to the full swing over the next few days.

Pic: http://natchezdemocrat.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/070213_Golf_JDS1_MAIN.gif

Sweet Spot in Golf Explained

Much like center of gravity, you’ll often hear that golf manufacturers have increased their sweet spot by 50% or more from one years designs to the next. But what does this actually mean? What is the sweet spot? Where is it on the club?

First and foremost, I want to dispel one rumor right now. The clubs sweet spot IS NOT its center of gravity. In fact, a club sweet spot is the exact spot on the club where if a ball hits it, the club will not twist because it has equal weight on either side of the club. Ever wondering why hitting the ball right on the sweet spot feels like you’ve hit nothing at all? Well, what you consider the ‘feel’ of a shot is in fact simply the vibrations you feel from impact and off-center hits. The better the shot, the less the vibrations, and the ‘better’ the feel. The poorer the contact, the worse it feels.

With all this said however, the center of gravity of a club does play a bit of a role in feel, but likely not in the way most of you would expect. When it comes to woods and irons, manufacturers, for the most part have been trying to keep the center of gravity’s low and back from the clubface. By doing this, it helps the average golfer get the ball airborne faster, but also, and most importantly, helps reduce the club twisting on off-center hits. Cavity back irons are a classic example. They are designed that way to help ensure off-center hits still ‘feel’ solid. So while you surely missed the sweet spot, the low and back center of gravity helps reduce the vibrations, and thus a poor shot, is no longer so poor, and feels less poor also. Another term used to describe this design type is around MOI. A back and low center of gravity helps increase the moment of inertia (MOI) of your shots.

The easiest way to prove all this is to stick a blade in the hands of an beginner. Blade style irons have no cavity and thus the center of gravity of these clubs is very close to face, so they have a reduce MOI, and off-center hits produce a ton of vibrations, and poorer results. Better amateurs and professionals use blades because of the added feel, and also their ability to work the ball. Luckily their swings are consistent enough to hit rather close to the sweet spot more times than not, so consistency is not a huge issue.

Source: www.intotherough.co.uk

Source: www.intotherough.co.uk

Last, but certainly not least is understanding exactly where your clubs sweet spot is. 9 times out of 10 its does not lie where the manufacturer put the X on the clubface, and thats because the sweet spot is rarely located smack dab in the center of the club. When you consider what a club looks like and its weight distribution, you’ll notice a fair bet of weight around the hosel of the club, especially in irons. This simple design characteristic will generally move the sweet spot closer to the heel of your club than the very center. An easy way to test is to hold your club in two fingers from the grip butt end, and then take the pointed end of a tee, and tap along the face. Tap the center of the club, and I’ll bet you, you’ll still see some twisting. The true sweet spot of your club lies where the club doesn’t twist at all.

Give it a shot, and start lining up your ball from your club actual sweet spot and start puring more shots!

gap-wedge

Okay, if you didn’t know any better you’d likely think we likely have a wedge fetish or something if you read our last post about lob wedges, but I’ll tell you now, we won’t be making a post on a 64 degree wedge.

Gap wedges used to be hard to find, rarely used, and more or less unrequired for a vast portion of the golfing population. Only better players who could rattle off the lofts of all their clubs like some Sound of Music “Do Re Mi” remake would carry such a thing. Well, times are a changing my friends, and it may be time you start re-looking at the gap wedge.

The gap wedges original purpose was fit the gap in loft between the standard 48 degree pitching wedge and the sand wedge at 56. This 8 degree different often left players with a 25 yards distance where they were forced to make half swings, despite being within the 150 yard marker. Half swings are rarely a golfers best friend when it comes to consistency, so the gap wedge was born. Golfers could now hit their pitching wedges 125, gap 110 and sand wedges 95-100. So for them, this problem was solved.

For the less serious golfer however, this problem was avoided altogether, which ain’t really a big deal, until you begin to consider what golf manufacturers have started to do to your irons.

Iron sets are getting stronger and stronger in loft
Major OEM’s are continually trying to get more distance out of their irons. New technologies are helping golfers get the ball on much higher trajectories, and airborne faster and more often. This has allowed them to turn the loft of your pitching wedge into the same as an 8-iron in other sets. And as you would expect, these are rarely included in stock sets.

Here’s an example:

  • The Rocketbladez pitching wedge carries a loft of 45 degrees (luckily TaylorMade also has a 50 degree gap, but of course it’s extra).
  • The TaylorMade Rac MB TaylorMade pitching wedge carried a loft of 48 degrees (released in 2002).
  • In the 1960′s pitching wedges had lofts of 50-51 degrees (source)

So why does this matter?

Well, for one, the loft of sand wedges and lob wedges are not changing too much at all. While you can get them in a variety of degrees, more or less the standard loft for sand wedges are between 54-56 and lob wedges are between 58-60. But now pitching wedges are carrying 45 degrees. Thats a gap of 9-11 degrees, and even for the amateur golfer, this starts to become an issue in the scoring department. We’re now looking at a 30-40 yard difference for some golfers from their pitching wedge to their sand wedge, and this is in your prime scoring zone.

So what should you buy?

And what should you get rid of (seeing as you can only have 14 clubs in your bag)? When it comes to purchasing a wedge, the best bet is to have some consistency in their differences of loft. In my bag, my pitching wedge is 46 degrees, gap wedge is 50, sand wedge is 54 and lob is 58. I’d recommend something similar. If your pitching wedge is 45 degrees, get a 50 degree gap wedge, 55 degree sand wedge and 60 degree lob (if you want/need one). When it comes to what you should get rid of that’s a slightly tougher question. Personally I have two woods, 3-9 iron, four wedges and a putter. I would suggest you rid yourself of any club often costing you strokes – and more often than not, that’s a wood or long iron. 2-hybrids can often replace a 3-wood and 3-iron.

Whatever you choose, be aware of the loft of your clubs and the distances they go, because as major OEM’s push the boundaries of technology to help improve your game, at times, gaps are opening up in your game that need to be addressed.

wedge-overview

Walking into any golf shop in town you’ll find iron sets that go from 3-pw or even more commonly now, 4-pw with a hybrid. But why only a pitching wedge? It’s no secret pitching wedges aren’t the pros clubs or choice around the greens, and especially not so from the sand. So why don’t more sets include them? The short answer, is so they can make more money, and while this post could rag on the OEM’s for this simple fact, we’d prefer to take the high road and simply explain why when it comes to wedges, the more the merrier (as long as the total numbers doesn’t exceed 14).

Okay, back to the lob wedge. I’m sure many of you reading this have two wedges in your bag. A pitching wedge and a sand wedge. You more often than not use the sand wedge for a variety of shots around the greens, and not just from the sand. That’s great! For the most part, if you have confidence in your game around the greens that will goes miles further than any additional club. But with that said I would like you to consider a few things before you move on.

source: http://www,thesandtrap.com

source: http://www.thesandtrap.com

Sand wedges, generally come with high bounce. To those of you who don’t know, this basically means that the leading edge of the sand wedge is raised above the trailing edge to help prevent the club from digging into the turf or sand when performing a shot. While this is all good and well in sand and the rough. When it comes to shots from the fairway, you are much more likely to hit shots thin.

Ever skulled a chip with your sand wedge? Or bladed a full swing shot from the fairway over the green? While I can’t honestly say its just the wedge’s fault, there is a strong possibility that if you have a wedge with lower bounce, this may not have happened. Better players tend to prefer lower bounce, as this helps eliminate this fault from their game.

A lob wedge generally has less bounce than a sand wedge, which means around the greens, it is the ideal club to use.

Next up in the benefits of the lob wedge is the loft. This club will hit the ball the highest, and impart the most amount of spin for going such a short distance. If you’re ever faced with a shot to a tight pin, or one where you need the ball to stop quickly, this is your club of choice. For most players out there who are not already using a lob wedge, you’re more often than not likely missing the greens in the exact place you don’t want to put the ball, leaving you little green to work with (also known as short-siding yourself). Golf designers strategic place bunkers and hills around greens to take advantage of this fact. A lob wedge is a great club to help you get out of these tight situations.

With all this said, the lob wedge is not the be all and end all of short game clubs. I for one prefer to use my low bounce sand wedge for a majority of my shots around the greens, but when I have a particularly tight shot, I change things up to my low bounce lob wedge.

Now, I know this club takes some getting used to, but with practice it will easily becomes your best friend around the greens, and surely save you strokes. When it comes to the number of clubs in your bag, if the lob wedge puts you over the 14 count, you likely have some unnecessary duplication. Likely a 3-iron and a 3-hybrid of similar loft, or a 5 wood (all of which are around 20 degrees). Ditch the club you’re least confident with and focus on getting know your lob wedge. You’ll be flopping shots like Phil in no time – we promise you won’t regret it.

Center of Gravity Golf

You likely read it in just about every new club design description going back twenty years, but what does ‘center of gravity’ exactly mean? And how does it affect your golf game? Well, in a nutshell, center of gravity is important for your trajectory, spin and for keeping off-center shots on line, and on target. In this post we’ll dive a little deeper into center of gravity and how it plays a role in your golf game.

Let’s start with Trajectory

center-of-gravity-v2Whether its your driver, iron or even your putter, the center of gravity plays a role in the trajectory of your shot. For all three of these club types, manufacturers have attempted to make your life on the course easier by placing the center of gravity of the clubs lower than the bottom half of the ball. By doing so, this helps you the golfers gets the ball airborne more easily. Yes, this is even true with the putter. Putters carry about 2 degrees of loft, and if you watch in slow motion, the ball gets slightly airborne before it starts its roll. The lower the center of gravity, the higher the trajectory of the shot. The opposite is true for clubs with higher center of gravities. And obviously the loft of the club you’re using plays a major role as well.

Now on to Spin
While loft plays the biggest role, the position of a clubs center of gravity can affect a shots trajectory and thusly affect the amount of spin on the ball.

Most importantly we come to Side-Spin
This is where center of gravity plays its biggest role. You’ve likely hear the term MOI or moment of inertia before in reference to golf club design. Well, manufacturers have consistently tried to increase a clubs MOI by moving a clubs center of gravity far away from the clubface. By adding in heel and toe eights (technology you’ve seen in irons and woods for decades), the engineers have been pushing and pushing to move the center of gravity back from the face (much like the image to the right). By doing so, they significantly have changed how a club reacts on off-center hits. Golf clubs designed with a much higher MOI will not twist nearly as much as one’s without on off-center hits. This helps the average golfer keep their ball in play, even when their swing is not up to snuff.

Off-center hits are also helped by the bulge and roll effect with drivers and woods, but thats a topic we’ve already covered in another post.

We hope that makes more sense, and before we hear about it in the comments, and because we have a whole post coming out on it in a few days time, I want to be very clear – center of gravity IS NOT a clubs sweet spot.

chunk-the-putter

First and foremost, yes that is “Chunk” from the Goonies… moving on…

A chunked putt is incredibly frustrating and ultimately costs your strokes. It happens to all of us from time to time, and the root cause is nearly always the same. And that is a drop in spine angle.

Spine angle can change in a number of ways to cause the chunk, but most often its from your head dropping towards the ball slightly, or you changing the level of bend in your body when you’re over the ball during your backswing.

Remember, a change of less than a half of an inch can cause the chunk, considering you address the ball with the club starting on the ground in the first place.

To help combat this there’s a couple things you can remember, but the best one, and the simplest is to keep your chin off your chest. The simple act of keeping you chin up will help you keep it more stationary during your stroke. Sometime good putters can get complacent and slowly their posture starts to deteriorate. This usually starts with the either the head, or the body slouching over the ball, which makes moving around during your stroke much easier.

Another common fault that can change your posture during your swing is eye movement. In general its best to focus on a single spot behind the ball during your stroke. If you’re eyes begin to move around, or look to early, it becomes very easy for your posture to change than can easily result in a chunk or other miss-hit.

So before every putt, stay tall, keep your chin up, and keep your eyes steady for your stroke. These simple tips will help you eliminate chunking from your game.

cup-bullseye2

Putting can one of the most infuriating parts of the game despite its simplicity. For those of you suffering from the yips or simply looking for a new way to try and reprogram your putting stroke here’s a drill you can try to help out.

For most players struggling with their putting, its not their feel thats the problem, it’s their ability to hit the putt where they are lining up. This drill attempts to eliminate your need to look at the ball while making a stroke, and trust me, this isnt easy, but with a little practice it works.

Start your setup as you normally would, make practice strokes to get a feel for the distance you need the putt to go (this is the most important part). Then align yourself as you normally would, focusing on the feel of the stroke your going to make. Here’s the trick, now focus solely on the target, DO NOT look down at the ball, and complete your stroke.

Thats it. This drill lets you focus solely on feel. At first you may find it difficult to get a feel for hitting the ball at the bottom of your arc, or on the center of the face, but practice makes perfect. Also you may find it easy to chunk the putt, and this is usually because of excess body movements during your stroke. Focus on keeping your head steady and you should have no problem making solid contact.

Give it a shot!